Lenten Meditation 20: The Soul’s Appearance at the Tribunal of God

1. When criminals are presented before their judges, though they fear and tremble, yet flatter themselves that either their crimes will not be proved against them, or that their judges will remit in part the punishments which they have deserved. O God! how great will be the horror of a guilty soul when presented before Jesus Christ, from whom nothing will be hidden, and who will judge it with the utmost severity!

2. It is the opinion of divines, that in the same place in which the soul is separated from the body it will be judged, and its lot decided either for eternal life or eternal death. But should the soul unhappily depart from the body in sin, what will it be able to say when Jesus Christ reminds it of his abused mercies, of the years he granted it, of the calls by which he invited it, and of the many other means which he afforded it of securing its salvation?

Jesus, my Redeemer! Thou who condemnest obstinate sinners, dost not condemn those who love Thee and who are sorry for having offended Thee. I am a sinner, but I love Thee more than myself, and I am sorry above every evil for having displeased Thee; oh, do Thou pardon me before the time comes when Thou wilt judge me!

3. At what hour you think not, the Son of man will come.[Luke 12:40].

When, therefore, O my Jesus and my Judge! Thou shalt judge me, after my death, Thy wounds will be a terror to me, reproaching me with my ingratitude for the love which Thou hast shown me in suffering and dying for me, but now they encourage me and give me confidence to hope for pardon from Thee, my Redeemer, who for the love of me, and that Thou mayest not have to condemn me, didst suffer Thyself to be tormented and crucified. We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood? O my Jesus! have pity on me, who am one of those sheep for whom Thou didst shed Thy sacred blood. If hitherto I have despised Thee, I now esteem and love Thee above all things. Make known to me the means by which I may be saved, and strengthen me to fulfil Thy holy will. I will no longer abuse Thy goodness. Thou hast placed me under too many obligations to Thee; I will no longer suffer myself to live at a distance from Thee and deprived of Thy love. Mary, Mother of mercy, have compassion on me.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

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